I just need people to stop pissing me off.
This saying has particular appeal to me because I’ve often been accused of being an angry person. I’m not going to deny it. I HAVE struggled with anger. But seriously, who hasn’t? It’s not like I’ve intentionally hurt anyone or set anything important on fire. So YOU’RE the one with the problem.
Ah, but I deflect.
Seriously though, I have had to work through some anger issues. Over the past two decades, I’ve done this predominantly through therapy, yoga, meditation, and yes, alcohol. The first three have been noticeably more effective than the fourth.
It should be noted that I’m by no means an angry drunk. In fact, I was always more in the “we should totally go to Canada/climb that cell tower/steal that grocery cart” camp. (A wink and nod to my former fellow campers. And sincerest apologies to those who were my keepers during such inspired moments.)
Still, and this may surprise you, there were occasions when alcohol backfired. Case in point – one afternoon, following a series of poor decisions, I was at a biker bar in Southern Florida, nearly blackout drunk and angrily attempting to start something with a woman with whom I had no business attempting to be starting something. I’ll spare you the details because 1) war stories are boring and 2) I don’t remember the details. I blacked out shortly after that defining moment. But when I came to later, there were three distinct claw marks across my back. I’m certain they were human.
And though I have no memory of the incident, I’m even more certain they were motivated by rage.
This story may be unsettling to those of you who have turned to me for guidance as a yoga teacher or a life coach. To you I say most sincerely, sorry but suck it up. And that’s not me being angry. It’s me being honest. And straight-up human. I don’t drink like that any more. But twenty years ago, “push it down with the brown” sure seemed like an easy way to manage my anger. Things are clearly not as they always seem.
Don’t worry. I’m not going to dole out some heart-warming story that relays to you the vast and sundry methods I employed to turn my life around and overcome anger. Despite the yoga, therapy, and meditation, I haven’t overcome anger. Frankly, it’s not even a goal. While to some extent I feel that anger is my birthright as a redhead (albeit a greying redhead), I don’t desire to rid myself of it because I also recognize where anger has helped me. My therapist many years ago suggested I reframe anger as “righteous indignation.” I liked that suggestion. And yeah, sure. For the first few years as I worked to grasp that concept, I was merely dressing up my anger in a righteously indignant costume and parading it around like a rabid three-legged Chihuahua in a black-sequined cape.
These days though, I am better able to recognize that line between righteous indignation motivating me to take positive action, and anger threatening to take me down. Far more often than not, I have a handle on it. And that’s saying a lot, given that THESE DAYS, things are… challenging. I’ll spare you the details on that one too, since we’re ALL living it.
Yes, yoga and meditation have gone a long way in teaching me skills to manage my anger. I no longer feel the need to be free of it though. When approached mindfully and with awareness, it serves a purpose. For me, it can be a valuable tool.
It would be nice though if certain people would at least stop trying to piss me off so much…